Jemez Tribe

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Jemez (from Hä’-mish, or Hae’-mish, the Keresan name of the pueblo.—Bandelier). A village on the north bank of Jemez River, about 20 miles north west of Bernalillo, New Mexico. According to tradition the Jemez had their origin in the north, at a lagoon called Uabunatota (apparently identical with the Shipapulima and Cibobe of other Pueblo tribes), whence they slowly drifted into the valleys of the upper tributaries of the Rio Jemez, the Guadalupe and San Diego, where they resided in a number of villages, and finally into the sandy valley of the Jemez proper, which they now occupy, their habitat being bounded on the south by the range of the west division of the Rio Grande Keresan tribes, the Sia and Santa Ana. Castañeda, the chronicler of Coronado’s expedition of 1541, speaks of 7 pueblos of the Jemez tribe in addition to 3 others in the province of Aguas Calientes, identified by Simpson with the Jemez Hot Springs region. Espejo in 1583 also mentions that 7 villages were occupied by the Jemez, while its 1598 Oñate heard of 11 but saw only 8. In the opinion of Bandelier it is probable that 10 pueblos were inhabited by the tribe in the early part of the 16th century.
Following is a list of the pueblos formerly occupied by the Jemez people so far as known. The names include those given by Oñate, which may be identical with some of the others: Arnushungkwa,
Anyukwinu, Astialakwa, Bulitzequa, Catroo, Ceca, Guatitruti, Guayoguia, Gyusiwa, Hanakwa, Kiashita, Kiatsukwa, Mecastria, Nokyuntseleta, Nonyishagi, Ostyalakwa, Patoqua, Pebulikwa, Pekwiligii, Potre, Seshiuqua, Setoqua, Towakwa, Trea, Tyajuindena, Tyasoliwa, Uahatzaa, Wabakwa, Yjar, Zolatungzezhii.
Doubtless the reason for the division of the tribe into so many lesser village communities instead of aggregating in a single pueblo for defense against the persistent aggressiveness of the Navaho, according to Bandelier, was the fact that cultivable areas in the sandy valley of the Jemez and its lower tributaries are small and at somewhat considerable distances from one another; but another and perhaps even more significant reason was that the Navaho were apparently not troublesome to the Pueblos at the time of the Spanish conquest. On the establishment of Spanish missions in this section and the introduction of improved methods of utilizing the water for irrigation, however, the Jemez were induced to abandon their pueblos one by one, until about the year 1622 they became consolidated into the two settlements of Gyusiwa and probably Astialakwa, mainly through the efforts of Fray Martin de Arvide. These pueblos are supposed to have been the seats of the missions of San Diego and San Joseph, respectively, and both contained chapels probably from 1618. Astialakwa was permanently abandoned prior to the Pueblo revolt of 1680, but in the meantime another pueblo (probably Patoqua) seems to have been established, which became the mission of San Juan de los Jemez. About the middle of the 17th century the Jemez conspired with the Navaho against the Spaniards, but the outbreak plotted was repressed by the hanging of 29 of the Jemez. A few years later the Jemez were again confederated with the Navaho and some Tigua against: the Spaniards, but the contemplated rebellion was again quelled, the Navaho soon resuming their hostility toward to village dwellers. In the revolt of Pueblos in Aug., 1680, the Jemez took a prominent part. They murdered the missionary at Gyusiwa (San Diego de Jemez), but the missionary at San Juan de los Jemez, with the alcalde mayor and three soldiers, succeeded in escaping. In 1681, when Gov. Otermin attempted to regain possession of New Mexico, the Jemez retreated to the mesas, but returned to their village on the evacuation of the region by the Spaniards. Here they probably remained until 1688, when Cruzate appeared, causing them to flee again to the heights. When Vargas came in 1692 the Jemez were found on the mesa in a large pueblo, but they were induced to descend and to promise the Spaniards their support. The Jemez, however, tailed to keep their word, but waged war during 1693 and 1694 against their Keresan neighbors on account of their fidelity to the Spaniards. Vargas returned to the Jemez in 1693, when they reiterated their false promises. In July, 1694, he again went to Jemez with 120 Spaniards and some allies from Santa Ana and Sia. The mesa was stormed, and after a desperate engagement, in which 84 natives were killed, the pueblo was captured. In the month following, Vargas (after destroying this village, another on a mesa some distance below, and one built by their Santo Domingo allies 3 leagues north.) returned to Santa Fe with 361 prisoners and a large quantity of stores. From this time the only then existing pueblo of the Jemez reoccupied was San Diego, or Gyusiwa, which was inhabited until 1696, when the second revolt occurred, the Indians killing their missionary and again fleeing to the mesas, where they constructed temporary shelters. Here they were joined by some Navaho, Zuñi, and Acoma allies, and made hostile demonstrations toward the Sia, Santa Ana, and San Felipe people, but in June of the year mentioned they were repulsed by a small detachment of Spaniards from Bernalillo and Sia with a loss of 30 men, 8 of whom were Aconra. The defeated Jemez this time fled to the Navaho country, where they remained several years, filially returning to their former home and constructing the present village, called by them Walatoa, “Village of the Bear.” In 1728, 108 oft he inhabitants died of pestilence. In 1782 Jemez was made a visita of the mission of Sia.
The Jemez clans are: Waha (Cloud), Seh ( Eagle), Son ( Badger), Daahl ( Earth), Kyiahl (Crow), Pe (Sun), Kyunu (Corn), Sungki (Turquoise), Weha (Calabash), Yang (Coyote), Kin (Pine).
The population of the tribe in 1890 was 428; in 1904, 498, including a score of descendants of the remnant of the Pecos, who left their old home on the upper Rio Pecos in 1838 to join their kindred.

The books presented are for their historical value only and are not the opinions of the Webmasters of the site.   Handbook of American Indians, 1906

Index of Tribes or Nations



MLA Source Citation:

Hodge, Frederick Webb, Compiler. The Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office. 1906. AccessGenealogy.com. Web. 28 July 2014. http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/jemez-tribe.htm - Last updated on Nov 7th, 2013


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